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Aden - Mombasa - Kilwa - Sofala by Braun & Hogenberg


Aden, Arabiae Foelicis Emporium Celeberrimi Nominis, quo ex India, Aethiopia ... [on sheet with] Mombaza [and] Quiloa [and] Cefala - Braun & Hogenberg.

€680  ($734.4 / £591.6)
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Item Number:  22352
Category:  Antique maps > Asia > Middle East

Four bird's-eye views on one sheet: Aden, Mombasa, Kilwa (Quiloa) and Sofala (Cefala), by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg.


TRANSLATION OF CARTOUCHE TEXT: Aden, famous centre of trade in Arabia, where merchants meet from India, Ethiopia and Persia. Aden is a magnificent town, well fortified due to its location and construction, famed for the beauty and number of its buildings, protected by ramparts and high mountains, on whose summits flaming torches show mariners the harbour. It was formerly a peninsula, but as a result of human industry is now completely surrounded by waters.

COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "All those travelling to Mecca come here, and as soon as a ship sails into the harbour, the sultan's soldiers arrive and inquire as to where they have come from, what goods they are carrying with them, how long they have been under sail and then confiscate the mast, the sails and the like. They do that so that the ships cannot leave without paying the toll."

The semicircular shape of the island is easily recognizable; the mountains around the city are topped by fortified strongholds and the city is lent an oriental character by its eye-catching red domes. Boats are being repaired on the shore, and the ships sailing past in the foreground also underline Aden's position as a controlling body in the Gulf. In the 13th century, according to Marco Polo, the city had a population of 80,000. With the shifting of the trade routes in the wake of the Portuguese discoveries, Aden went into an economic decline; in 1548 it was conquered for the Ottoman Empire by Piri Reis, the admiral of the Ottoman fleet. Aden is today a city in Yemen with 550,000 inhabitants.


COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Mombasa was conquered by force by the Christians in the year 1505. For when Francisco de Almeida was sent to India by the King of Portugal to levy duties from the inhabitants, the Africans rebelled violently against him. As a consequence the Christians destroyed the town and burned it right down to the ground. The ruler escaped with his life, the other inhabitants were all killed."

The illustration shows a stereotypical view of a small town on an island. While the architecture, with its tall towers and red roofs, is not very African, the palm trees are more typical of the local vegetation. The picture and the description suggest that little was known about Mombasa.The town was reached by the Portugese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1498 and conquered by Portuguese troops under Francisco de Almeida in 1505. Mombasa lies on Mombasa Island off the east coast of Africa and is today Kenya's second-largest city.


COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Quiloa is a pretty little town in Africa, situated on an island close to the mainland, whose king is a Muslim and a great enemy of all Christians. In 1505 Francisco de Almeida put in at his town with the Portuguese fleet and summoned the king to him. The latter said that he was ill, however, so that he could use the time to arm himself for battle. 700 Portuguese therefore made ready to storm the town, whereupon they soon conquered it, put the king to flight, installed a new political regime and placed it under the authority of the King of Portugal."

The view of Kilwa (Port. Quiloa) shows a small town made up of foreign and Mediterranean-seeming houses in a forest of palm trees on an island. Kilwa Kisiwani (Swahili for "the town on the island") lies just 1.5 km off the east coast of Africa and today belongs to Tanzania. In 1505 the town was taken by the Portuguese under the command of Francisco de Almeida, but Portuguese dominion lasted only until 1512. The town remained a major trading port up to the 18th century, but only ruins survive on the site today.


COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Cefala is an island in Africa that was discovered as late as 1500; it measures three miles long, one mile wide. Has two villages with not a small number of houses and a palace that formerly belonged to the King of Quiloa".

Today a simple fishing village in Mozambique's Sofala province, Cefala or Sofala was once an important trading port at the mouth of the Sofala River in Portuguese East Africa. It was taken by the Portuguese in 1505; the occupiers built a fort and used the harbour to convey away the gold that was mined in the area. Tomé Lopez, who sailed to Africa with Vasco da Gama, believed that he had found in Sofala the biblical city of Ophir, from where King Solomon obtained his gold. This legend persisted right up to the 20th century. (Taschen)

Date of the first edition: 1572
Date of this map: 1612

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Size (not including margins): 34 x 48cm (13.3 x 18.7 inches)
Verso text: Latin
Condition: Old coloured, excellent.
Condition Rating: A
References: Van der Krogt 4, #41 State 2; Fauser, #80, #9012, #6545, #13127; Taschen, Br. Hog., p. 128.

From: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Liber Primus. Cologne, Petrus von Brachel, 1612. (Van der Krogt 4, 41:1.1(1612))